Japan Diaries – Tokyo, Day 3 and 4

Our last two days in Tokyo were back-to-back packed with shopping & eating adventures.

Started the day in Shimokitazawa district. This place won’t be on the Tokyo Metro map you’ll pick up at the station. You will have to Google map it or ask someone at the train station on how to get there. I wish I remembered the trains we took to get there but unfortunately or fortunately, depending on how you look at it, I wasn’t the designated “Navigator” of the trip. My duties were limited to (a) serving the tea to the gang every morning (aka the official chai walli), and (b) planning the day’s itinerary.

Let’s shift our focus to Shimokitazawa or better known as Shimo. My most favorite part of Tokyo! Not only because shopping is sui generis and dirt cheap!! It’s crazy trendy!!! How about Tokyo Vogue coming to life on the streets! This district is also the hipster part of town so vintage stores are in abundance. In the evening, on weekends, this neighborhood turns into a photographer’s dream. If The Sartorialist made it to the Galata district in Istanbul, he’s bound to have been here at some point!!

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As soon as you step out of the station, follow the path into town and keep an eye out on your right side for a warehouse full of at least 15 adorably cute stores in it, lined up flea-market style. That’s the spot you want to explore! And don’t miss shoe candy at Oriental Traffic – Aldo of Tokyo but better!

Stopped by J.S. Pancake Cafe to refuel ourselves with these heavenly desserts: (yum squared!)

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After an entire day of emptying out our wallets, we headed back to Shinjuku to get to the famous Robot Restaurant. HMMMMH I had heard from plenty this was the best thing they did in Tokyo. I’m not sure if I echo the same sentiment. It is definitely the strangest thing I have seen. Quirky. Not like anything I have seen before which by definition makes it unique. But…it certainly wasn’t the “best” item on my itinerary. On a scale of 1-10, I give it a 4 on “Entertainment” because I felt it was erratic and a bit childish in its production. But it gets an 8 on “Robot Madness”. Yep, so if you want to see Robots fighting each other Japanese style, go for it. Or you know what? whatthehell…go for it anyways! It’s once-in-a-lifetime experience for sure!

The staircase leading up to the show is one colorful passageway…

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Show starts off with a drum performance – the best part:

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My favorite part? Seeing Daryl Nixon (from The Walking Dead) on the Celebrity attendance wall!!!

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After the show, walked the vicinity and let the the competitive bit out at a local arcade. Tell you, I felt all-out Japanese after being in an arcade!

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Finished the night off with fish cakes, meatballs, grilled veggies, Yakitori (skewers), plates full of Kimchi and…a selfie!

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Following day, made our way into Akihabara district, Tokyo’s Manga/Anime/ Electronics capital! We didn’t have to buy much so we quickly browsed through. However if you intend to do some serious shopping then make sure to take a tour guide with you who can show you around because everything is in Japanese! If you into hair and make-up, they have some cool gadgets to offer. One thing we wanted to go to was a Maid Cafe in Tokyo and Akihabara is known for those. Unfortunately we didn’t have enough time but if you do, put it on your list! And try to visit Akihabara on a Sunday – it’s a costume show!

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Off to Odaiba to see Gundam Statue. Odaiba is a nice part of town, bit suburbia. We were there for a very brief stop (we had a Gundam fan!) but if you have time, there are two huge malls – Aqua & Diver city malls – worth exploring.

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A quick autograph of Gundam and we were back in Harajuku for more last minute shopping. Bad decision! Bad decision! Three words: United Nude and Monomania!

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I’ll leave the rest to your imagination!

Made it in time for our 9:45 pm reservation at Rokkasen. Totally recommend the place but do make reservations in advance.

We got to grill our own A-Grade Meat!

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Last stop: Shibuya Crossing, the busiest crosswalk in Tokyo, featured in The Amazing Race and Resident Evil! Guys, this is our last night in Tokyo. I bid thee beautiful city with its beauuuuuuuuuuuutiful residents farewell in no better way then celebrating the many lights which keep this city shining bright all night long!!!

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Give your imagination a ride of your life and visit Tokyo!!!

Japan Diaries – Tokyo, Day 1 and 2

Tokyo is like no other city!!!

A fascinating culture with the most generous, respectful and patient people by miles!

I am not exaggerating…

It literally is that accurate!

I had no idea we had it in us to be this nice!

Don’t get me wrong. For people living in it, it’s not an easy feast. They work hard…in fact they may just work too hard. At times they appear solemn. Japan’s suicide rate exceeds world average. It is the second leading cause of death among younger generation. Japanese are an accomplished society and they pay a heavy tag for it. You’d think a nation this maxed out would scorn at the sight of a tourist who gets in their way towards the end of the night. Yet their gentleness is evident only then. One evening we stood lost in the middle of the metro station figuring out which train to embark on. A lady came by, instructed us to follow her, she led us straight to our train, we marched inside hoping she’d follow our footsteps, instead she waved us goodbye and took off to catch her train. People are willing to go above and beyond to make your life easy. This is just one of several examples of Japanese hospitality we encountered. It shows me how devoted they are to their country and the extent of pride they hold in their culture.

I look forward to sharing my pictures to show you how marvelous this place is. And hopefully convince you to visit Japan in your lifetime to be able to experience its hospitality first-hand.

With that said, let’s start with our itinerary!

Late night arrival from Kyoto to our luxury apartment in Shinjuku. We got lucky! This is spacious for Tokyo standards. Thanks to Airbnb!

Started our day with a stroll down Shinjuku, Tokyo’s largest skyscraper district.

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Made our way into Shinjuku station for lunch, one of Tokyo’s busiest stations. Tokyo Metro stations are blackholes on Earth – once you make your way into them, you can’t get out, just letting you know! There are fully equipped cities buried in there. For instance, check out this extensive cafeteria where we stopped to grab midday meals

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$140 melons!!??!!#$#%#

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Grabbed our goodies and headed to rooftop of the metro station – 8th floor – for a relaxing meal and view!

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Then made our way to Omotesando, Japan’s trendy district.

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Here’s Prada store, a popular landmark:

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Condomania, a popular chain, not kidding!

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We started breathing once we saw Zara, Forever 21…more fitting for our wallets. GU and Uniqlo are other stores you definitely want to pay a visit to, both low-cost brilliant fashion chains, guaranteed to take half a day! GU’s Ginza location is their flagship store.

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Much later in the evening I discovered a heaven called Laforet Harajuku. I realized then I was standing at the corner of Omotesando and Harajuku, the epicenter of Tokyo fashion! I wish I could have photographed all of Laforet – talk about fashion on steroids – unfortunately no photography was allowed inside 😦

Wasn’t long until I had at least 15 lbs to carry in each hand so it only made sense to end the night quick.

Next day, visited Tokyo Metropolitan Government building, a few blocks from our apt. The observatory on the 45th floor provides free views of the city.

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That’s Yoyogi Park below, Tokyo’s version of Central Park. On Sundays, Tokyo’s harajukus crowd the park – said to be Photography heaven!

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Be sure to stop by Crank Trunk on the 45th floor, close to the exit. Unique souvenir finds!

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Olympics 2020 banners everywhere – they…are…ready!

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Headed to Ginza, Tokyo’s premier district. Think Rodeo Drive!

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If hungry for a quick snack, drop by a corner cafe called Le Cafe Doutor – $12 for a sandwich, coffee, salad and soup with complimentary dessert, all pretty good.

Mitsukoshi, a huge department store, is only a block away from this cafe. We had to go there to try the famous macarons of Laduree. Worth…every…step…we…took…on…the…way…there!

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Flavors: Rose Lychee, Cherry Blossom, Pistachio

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Ended the night in Roppongi, known for its night life and definitely very famous with foreigners. It reminded me so much of Wilshire Blvd. and Santa Monica at night.

A view of the Tokyo Tower

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Roppongi Hills

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Crystal fireworks…you can instantly create your own fireworks on their website

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Wish we’d spent more time in Roppongi. It definitely looks like the hideout for the romantics, actually might not be a bad place to stay!

Goodnight Tokyo…